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Scathing report calls for criminal charges to Australia's banking sector

Author
Liam Dann, NZ Herald ,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Monday, 4 February 2019, 7:12p.m.
The banking industry has been rocked by revelations emanating from the Royal Commission. (Photo / File)
The banking industry has been rocked by revelations emanating from the Royal Commission. (Photo / File)

The Australian banking Royal Commission has called for tougher regulation, more scrutiny of pay and has made 76 recommendations to overhaul the industry.

In a final report released this evening, the Commission found 24 instances of corporate behaviour which it has referred to the regulators for possible prosecution.

Australia's corporate regulators will also be subjected to a new oversight body.
Australia's Federal Government has said it will implement the recommendations.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg slammed a the banking culture which he said had "broken businesses" and the stress and personal pain that had "broken lives".

"It's a scathing assessment of conduct driven by greed and behaviour that was in breach of existing law and fell well below community expectations," he said.

Frydenberg announced a A$30 million compensation scheme of last resort to pay victims of misconduct by institutions which no longer exist.

It will compensate victims dating back to 2008, the remit of the royal commission.

But, in what Bloomberg news described as a win for the banks, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne stopped short of calling for them to be forcibly broken up to separate financial advice and wealth management from day to day banking.

The final report was released this evening after the sharemarket close but indications from bond markets were that it was in line with expectations.

The Australian dollar was largely unmoved.

It comes after a long-running inquiry into the misconduct in the Australian banking industry.

Revelations during the inquiries have rocked the industry, knocking back the shares of ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank over the past year.

All four of New Zealand's major banks have Australian parent companies.

Local commentators have warned that tighter credit in New Zealand is likely to be the biggest fallout from commission's findings.

"We expect access to bank debt is going to get more difficult," said Shane Solly, a fund manager with Harbour Asset Management.

Solly pointed to banks in Australia cutting back on interest-only loans.

In New Zealand a banking sector report by the FMA and Reserve Bank found "significant weaknesses" in the way New Zealand banks govern and manage conduct risks, and said changes need to be made.

But it revealed only a small number of issues relating to poor conduct by bank staff relative to the issues being addressed in Australia.

 

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